Under No Circumstances

According to the LA Times, the Justice Department is doing the final bit of groundwork that could give the already widely discredited Attorney General Alberto Gonzales the power to “fast-track” state executions in states like California and elsewhere.

Under no circumstances must this be allowed to occur.

Whether you are a supporter of the Death Penalty or as vehemently opposed to it as I am, there should be at least one consensus in that the execution of the practice must be fair and within the full letter of the law.  As with any government program it is through this standard that the integrity of our entire social system is upheld in the highest ideals of America.

But as I have reported intermittently through the years, the death penalty is one area in which Alberto Gonzales is most definitely not on the side of fair play.  I remember first making this case when he was tapped to be the Attorney General, and through my research of his past.

Of course at that time most people were focused on his perversions of the Geneva convention in regards to torture.  Now, in this new context where Gonzales’ power over state side executions is about to grow, it would seem the chicken’s have come home to roost.

With the same disdain that Gonzo has held the Geneva convention, he has also in his time serving George W. Bush, back in the Texas State government also held little regard for the lesser talked about Vienna convention.

According to this accord, in the instance of a foreign national accused of a capital crime on our soil, we have a responsibility to notify the accused’s home nation, and give them the opportunity to represent the accused in our courts.

This was not the case, however, when it came to Ireno Tristan Montoya, a fisherman who was convicted of murder in Texas.  In regards to the Vienna convention, Gonzales would provide a precursor to his actions in the White House by legally ninjaing Texas’ way out of having to follow the Vienna convention in the first place.

The logic?  Texas never signed on, so it doesn’t have to play.  Though, one might wonder that in regards to international affairs, it might rightly be assumed that Texas stands with the rest of the United States, unless of course it would like to leave the union and become its own nation.

Indeed, Gonzales has a long history of speeding along executions despite the merits of the case, or put more truthfully, IN spite of the merits of the case.

In his role as legal counsel to then governor George W. Bush, Gonzales often provided memoranda, clemency memos, to the governor prior to execution.

Traditionally, a clemency memo is intended to be an unbiased overview of the case in question, providing the governor who has pardon and clemency power with all the details necessary to make an informed decision on the fate of those convicts sitting on death row.

It is our last chance to get things right, and make sure someone does not unjustly go to the electric chair.  Logically one would think that the predominant subject matter of these memos would include specific details of the case, the physical and mental state of the convicted, attributes of the trial that could point to a fair or unfair trial, and any other mitigating factors that could provide reason that this particular person should not be executed… even remorse.

This, we now know, is about the opposite of what Alberto Gonzales did.  In fact, what he proceeded to do was provide for Bush not an objective history of the case, but instead a grissly retelling of the murder, as though providing prepackaged justification for allowing the execution to continue.

The even allowed a mentally retarded convict to be executed, something that our law system kind of frowns upon.

Under their tenure, 152 persons were executed, some of whom unfairly by our consentual standards and by international convention.  When it comes to state sponsored execution, Alberto Gonzales has no scruples, and he has no interest in fairness.

Today he is widely under fire for his incompetence.  When he doesn’t know what he is doing, which seems like a great deal of the time, things fall apart.  But he knows about sending people to the gas chamber, he did it often and did it well, and we must under no circumstances give him the power to do it some more.

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